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Women Exposed to Combat Trauma as Resilient as Men: Study
Date:6/8/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Male and female military personnel exposed to combat zone trauma tend to experience similar mental health problems and recover at the same rate, a new study reveals.

The finding -- the first to examine the role of gender on combat-linked stress after deployment -- was based on a survey completed by American men and women deployed between October 2007 and July 2008 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The study had two major findings, according to lead author Dawne S. Vogt, an associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. "One is that more women than ever before are experiencing combat. So although men continue to experience it at slightly higher rates, the difference in exposure is relatively small."

"The other one is that this suggests that women may be just as resilient as men in the year following return from deployment," Vogt said. "Which is a novel finding, because the broader trauma literature has historically found that women are more vulnerable to trauma exposure. But in this study you're not seeing that."

Vogt and her colleagues present their findings in a recent online issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

The authors noted that the Pentagon's current official policy bars women from direct participation in ground combat, although they are nonetheless deployed in numerous risky combat situations.

That official ban has been the subject of much recent debate, despite the fact that according to the Department of Defense, more than 750 women have been killed or wounded in action in either the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as of 2009.

Against that backdrop, the study authors polled a random sample of 595 veterans of those wars through the Defense Manpower Data Center. The group was comprised of 340 women and 252 men, all of whom had returned from their respective war zone within the year
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